IWGP Research Group:

Analysis of Archaeological Food Remains


This research group provides a platform for researchers of all career stages and levels of experience interested in the analysis of archaeological remains of food. We focus on investigating, discussing and promoting a better understanding of the identification and analysis of archaeological remains of food, in all shapes and forms.

The transformation of plant and/or animal parts into food has been, and continues to be, driven primarily by pragmatic goals aimed at improving various aspects of food quality and safety, such as palatability, digestibility, and nutritional value. At the same time, however, the transformative processes that the raw materials undergo to become culinary artefacts are strongly determined by a society’s cultural traditions. By studying food remains, archaeologists can unravel patterns of food production, distribution and consumption, and better understand the underlying social dynamics.

The removal of indigestible plant parts and the breakdown of tissues both leave distinctive micromorphological traces that can provide clues to the components and food preparation techniques (grinding, fermenting, cooking, etc.) involved in the production of a preserved food crust or bread-like object from an archaeological context. Other traces can only be detected through chemical approaches. Both microstructural and chemical analysis play complementary roles in the study of charred food remains. While this group is clearly focused on archaeobotanical analysis, we recognise that its integration with chemical residue analysis is likely to lead to a number of future breakthroughs in the study of ancient culinary and dietary patterns.

The idea for this research group emerged as a result of conversations with other specialists in this research area, as a way of promoting the development of research and knowledge exchange. With this group we aim at fostering communication within and beyond the research community and this can involve sharing preliminary results, communicating novel approaches and concepts, and discussing methodological advances. We believe this group to be especially relevant in providing support and opportunities for networking and skills development for early career researchers.


Lara González Carretero

Andreas G. Heiss


Terms of Reference

To join the group and receive announcements, please sign up to our mailing list: www.jiscmail.ac.uk/archeofood

Upcoming Events

There are no upcoming events at this time

Past Events

Du grain au pain : Approches microbotaniques aux aliments archéologiques. Séminaire international

Local Organisers Hosts: Andreas G. Heiss, OeAW-OeAI, and Julian Wiethold, Inrap Grand Est Participants: Justine Gomes, Pierre-Antoine Vivier

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19 February 2024

International Workshop “Amorphous Charred Objects”

Local Organisers Hosts: Andreas G. Heiss, OeAW-OeAI Participants: Jessi Berndt, Elena Marinova, Lucy Kubiak-Martens, Véronique Matterne, Merle Oelbüttel, Wouter van der Meer, Hans-Peter Stika

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16 February 2023

Background image: Charred cultivated plant remains from Fuente Álamo (prov. Almería, Spain), Bronze Age El Argar culture © Hans-Peter Stika